Three Republican senators have been the focus of all the anger over the failure of the Obamacare repeal effort, but it is time to consider a different analysis – and focus on the real opposition. For every one Republican senator who voted “no,” there were 16 Democratic senators who voted no with them.
Ten of the Democratic senators who voted against the bill come from states that President Trump carried in the election. They are going to have to explain to their constituents why Obamacare is still the law of the land. Meanwhile, the three Republicans who voted against the bill are not going to be defeated in their home states, so they are not going to be intimidated by outside criticism.
Republicans have a passion for going after those in their own ranks who sometimes step out of the party line, but they must resist this urge. It could cost them in 2018. Instead, conservative activist groups and Republican super PACs should focus on the ten Democratic senators in states President Trump won who voted “no.” If we could defeat eight of these ten, then we would have more than enough votes to repeal Obamacare and pass tax cuts under reconciliation, which requires 50 votes plus the support of the Vice President. Suddenly, the one vote shortfall from last week could become a five or six vote margin of error.
It’s critical Republicans avoid the desire to force rapid and drastic change and instead consider the Constitution.
The Founding Fathers' greatest fear was dictatorship. They believed that a sophisticated separation of powers would protect freedom. No one branch of the government could dominate and dictate.
The Founders intentionally designed our governmental machine to be so inefficient that no dictator could quickly force radical change. They succeeded so well that even now incremental change takes serious planning, hard work, and difficult negotiation.
The Senate is – and has always been – critical to avoiding dictatorship. The Founding Fathers feared the mob, and they did not want a fast, volatile process of translating current public opinion into law.
Conservatives should recognize, as President Ronald Reagan did, that the key to passing legislation is the American people.
Every Republican should read Thomas Evans's The Education of Ronald Reagan. This small book examines Reagan's eight years at General Electric, where he learned that if you could move the people, the politicians would follow.
The first opportunity for Republicans to practice the Reagan strategy is with the tax cut bill. Let's write a tax cut bill that is so attractive to the American people that many Democrats feel compelled by the folks back home to vote for it.
Then, let’s continue to work toward a better health system by writing a series of understandable, not complex, bills. Each bill should be able to stand on its own and be designed to attract popular support to make it hard for Democrats to vote against.
Finally, let's pass an infrastructure bill with the large bipartisan majorities we will have built while dealing with tax cuts and health care.
If we accomplish this, then by Christmas, we could be in a much better place.
Remember, the key is to keep the focus on the 48 Democrats in the Senate, so they either vote with us in Washington or get voted out of office back home.
That will be much more productive than shouting at ourselves and complaining about our own team.
Newt Gingrich is the author of Understanding Trump, and is a former Republican Speaker of the House.